For Businesses: Complying with the New Plastic Bag Ban

WHAT IS BANNED?  Plastic bags provided at checkout.

WHO IS AFFECTED?  The ban applies to all businesses --whether they are retail shops, markets, restaurants, take-out food providers or other commercial establishments.  It applies to all businesses located in Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Vineyard Haven and West Tisbury. At this time, only Oak Bluffs’ businesses are not covered by the ban. (The Oak Bluffs selectman have postponed the Town’s consideration of the ban.) 

WHEN DOES THE BAN TAKE EFFECT?  The ban goes into effect January 1, 2017.



ü   PAPER Bags: they must contain at least 40% post-consumer content (except that an 8 pound or smaller bag must contain a minimum of 20% post-consumer recycled content). Paper bags must visibly display the word “recyclable” and the percentage of post-consumer recycled content.

ü   PLASTIC Bags: are only allowed if they are at least 4 mils thick.

ü   REUSABLE Bags: they may be made of washable fabric, thick plastics (polyester, polypropylene, etc.), or other durable materials, and they must be specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse. Plastic reusable bags must be at least 4.0 mils thick.




X    Thin-film, plastic-type bags (except produce and bulk bags provided before the point of sale)

X    Bags that are marked “photodegradable”, “oxo-biodegradable”, ”compostable”, “biodegradable”,  “GXT Green”, “Noaxe”,  and the like, unless they are at least 4 mils thick

X    Paper bags made with virgin, non-recycled material, or paper coated with plastic or another material that inhibits its future recyclability


A primary goal of the ban is to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags, which are a menace to our Island. But the ultimate goal of the ban is to raise awareness about shopping bags and all of the other single-use items that we use. Please encourage employees to ask customers if they need any bag at all. We are not trying to just make the switch from plastic to paper, but to decrease the use of disposable bags of any type. Although the ban does not cover produce/bulk bags, we strongly encourage stores to consider using recycled paper in place of plastic and to offer reusable bulk bags for sale. Together our little changes make a big difference!

See our list of contacts for vendors of bags that comply with the new bylaw

For more info, email Samantha (